Amid all the drama that has risen from the exclusion of Wriddhiman Saha from the Indian Test squad, there is a lot to talk about the squad that has been picked for the upcoming Sri Lanka series. However, BCCI selectors also made their point clear by not picking Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, & Ishant Sharma, who have been in poor form lately.
When I decided to analyze the squad that has been picked for the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, I thought it was also important to talk about the players who have been left off. So first, let’s look into the announced Indian squad for the IND vs SL Test Series.
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India’s Test Squad for Sri Lanka Test Series
Rohit Sharma (c), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, R Pant, KS Bharat, R Ashwin (subject to fitness), R Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, J Bumrah (vc), Md. Shami, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Saurabh Kumar
The Status of Pujara-Rahane
The chairman of the Indian Selection Committee, Chetan Sharma, clearly stated that the four dropped players were communicated after the end of the South Africa series that they will not be considered just for the Tests against Sri Lanka. Instead, he wanted them to play in the Ranji Trophy to understand their game and fitness levels.
His exact words, when asked whether these players can make a comeback to the side: “They have played for the country for so long, why not? Ajinkya got a hundred yesterday. A cricketer’s graph goes up and down. It is very important for the selectors to take care of the cricketers when they are going through a rough phase. You can’t just strike their name permanently.
“We have told them that we will not consider for these two Test matches. There is nothing wrong if we have told the four of them that we are not considering them for these two matches. We will consider them later.
“In the meanwhile let’s see how the others do. We are nobody to close doors on anybody. We have told them a period. I have requested all four of them to play Ranji, which is very important because the selectors are looking closely at the Ranji Trophy. That is how we know where you are at. We spoke to the four of them immediately after South Africa, and told them we are not picking them for these two matches.”
Both Rahane and Pujara participated in the first round of Ranji game, where their respective sides, Mumbai and Saurashtra, faced each other. Rahane scored a century in the first innings, whereas Pujara was dismissed for a duck in the first innings, followed by a 91 in the followed-on second innings. As a result, the match ended as a draw.
Other Talking Points
Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant, removed from the players’ bio-bubble during the third T20 game of the recently concluded West Indies series, will join the squad for the Tests against the Islanders. Both these players are also rested for the T20 series.
Indian all-rounder Shardul Thakur is rested for both T20I and Test series against Sri Lanka. Delhi Capitals recently signed Thakur for Rs 10.75 crore in the IPL 2022 auction.
KS Bharat, the Indian reserve for the last two years. Even though he hasn’t been part of the Indian side in the format, he finally got a chance to keep wickets for Team India in the Indore Test against New Zealand when Saha got injured. Now, with Saha left out, Bharat is essayed to be the second-choice wk for India in the longer format.
With KL Rahul’s absence, it will be an inner-battle between Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill, who were picked to open along with Rohit Sharma.
Ravindra Jadeja returns after a long injury break after sufficiently recovering from a right forearm injury.
Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the West Indies limited-overs tour, will return and represent the side as the vice-captain.
Ravi Ashwin, in the squad, is still undergoing rehab in NCA, Bangalore. He will be tested for his fitness before the Test series and will play only if he fits. Jayant Yadav is the other right-arm off-spinner in the squad.
Likewise, Kuldeep Yadav is back in the squad. However, another left-arm spinner, Axar Patel, is still not fit, and he will be replaced by another left-arm off-spinner, Saurabh Kumar, who will make his debut if selected in the Playing XI.
Both KL Rahul and Washington Sundar have been injured and undergoing treatment. However, if any of them recovered earlier than expected, they would be added to the squad, said the selector’s chairman.